14 Jun Validation
“Imagine a world where the cry of every child is met by a loving, compassionate adult” Dr. Karyn Purvis
What is Validation?
The definition of validation is a recognition that a person or their feelings are valid and worthwhile. And as humans we all need to feel heard, understood and appreciated. When validation is implemented in all our relationships, either with children, partners, or parents, it can have the power to calm fears and concerns, add joy, happiness and help to resolve conflicts. Validation has a significant impact on all relationships. So, what happens when we don’t implement validation in our relationships, particularly with children? When children experience invalidation their self-esteem, trust in you, and trust in themselves all decrease.
Many professionals and parents in a child’s life do not realise the power their words have and often communicate with “why did you do that?”, or “you should have…” these statements are all roadblocks in attunement and learning with the child. When we implement validation skills we show children that their emotions are important and we are here for them. Validating sends the message that “your feelings make sense. It’s ok to feel what you feel, and I am accepting your feelings in a non-judgemental way”
How to Validate Your Child
So how do we validate effectively with our children. The first step is to be present and listen to the expressed feelings. This may require eye contact, perhaps getting down to the child’s level, or anything else that demonstrates that you are paying attention to them. The second step would be to help the child process their feelings and words. Reflecting their feelings back to them conveys the message that you listened to them.
If you reflect the feelings incorrectly, there’s no need to stress because children will often correct you and you can try again! Reflecting the feelings may sound like this: “It sounds like you are feeling worried about the test”. The third step would be to provide a safe space in order for them to be soothed and nurtured. This does not mean that parents should “fix” or “rescue” or provide the “answers”, but to be a container of their feelings. This may look like giving your child a hug, not saying anything, but just being with them. The role of validation is to listen, process, and nurture. To validate is to listen, process and nurture. To validate is to provide acceptance and acknowledgement. Invalidation is to ignore, reject and judge.
Providing validation does not mean that you have to agree or approve, particularly if there was an action that you disagreed with. It is more about validating the child’s thoughts and feelings, to ask questions, to be curious, to find out what is happening for the child to help you understand. It is important to validate your child’s emotions so that your child can see you as a safe haven to open up to. It is also vital to validate the emotions that you might be experiencing. Validation is a challenging skill and hard to practice.
Try to add validation into small interactions each day to make it a habit. Try validating your spouse, friend, co-worker, and especially your children. You will notice a huge improvement in all your relationships and you will be surprised how connecting it is. The most important thing about implementing the skill of validation is that you are modelling it, and what a wonderful skill to model for your children!